Tag Archives: Justin Timberlake

Happy Tenth Anniversary, Red Carpet Massacre!

I remember the first time I listened to a song from Red Carpet Massacre. It was Night Runner, and boy was I ever shocked. I think I was on the carpet, perched up on my knees in the very room I currently occupy. The evolution from den to nursery to office in ten years is a fairly good indicator of the changes my life has taken during that time, oddly enough.  On that day though, I sat up on my heels, listened to the opening notes, and then checked to make sure I was listening to the right band.

Night Runner was unlike anything I’d ever heard from Duran Duran before. Slow but deliberate, and wait, was that falsetto hovering about in the chorus?!? This was not the Duran Duran I thought I knew. Without even looking at the message boards to gauge how other fans felt, I took an immediate and visceral dislike to Night Runner. It was everything, including-but-not-limited-to-Justin-Timberlake, that I hated about music at the time. It was not one of my finest moments as a fan.  I cringed every single time I heard it.

Then Skin Divers came along. As I like to say, “they had me until the chorus”. It’s true. Musically, the song was brilliant. If only Timbaland had kept his “wicky-wicky” rapping out of it. Alas. I just did not know what this band was thinking, and with every interview or update where Nick or John would tell us the album was the greatest thing since sliced bread, my sense of dread grew into an ever-hardening pit in my stomach. What were they hearing that I just couldn’t?

When Red Carpet Massacre was released, I was almost relieved because the sense of impending doom was over. It took me time, but I did learn to enjoy “The Valley”, “Red Carpet Massacre”,  and even “Last Man Standing”, but I felt like I just couldn’t get on board with the album as a whole.  Thank goodness I wasn’t a blogger back then!

 

At the time, I was just so mad. Like a lot of fans I’ve spoken with in the years since, we felt like the band had completely ditched its original fan base in favor of a younger crowd.  I can remember seeing various people scoff at that comment, self-righteous and smug in their fired-off responses. The fact is – that’s kind of how fandom works. Some people really do take it all very personally, and while it can certainly be a double-edged sword, without those types of fans, bands (or just about anything else) don’t make it for long. Loyal fan bases are what carry bands, TV shows, sports teams, and pretty much anything else, through the tough times.

I still don’t really “get” a lot about the album, but I clearly see the direction in which they were headed. I have many reasons to appreciate the album’s place in Duran’s history. Hindsight can be a beautiful thing! I just don’t think they had the choice at the time to work with someone who not only saw where they were headed, but also appreciated where they had come from. They desperately needed someone with the ability to finesse the music and sound they wanted in a way that would actually suit the band.  But again – it’s only hindsight.

In many aspects, Red Carpet Massacre paved the way for Paper Gods.  They could have never written or effectively executed Paper Gods, had they not expanded their horizons with Red Carpet Massacre. I don’t know that the fan base would have been as ready to embrace Paper Gods, had we not had the experience we did with Red Carpet Massacre, either.

One difference between the two albums is that Paper Gods continues to embrace and celebrate who Duran Duran has always been, while looking ahead and challenging their fans. This is something that I’ve always loved about this band. They continually force me to expand the boundaries of how I (and every other fans) personally define who they are. Sometimes, I enjoy the process; other times, it makes me very uncomfortable until I get it. That’s art.

I find it hard to believe it has been ten years since Red Carpet Massacre was released. Like nearly every other album, in some ways it seems impossible to have been that long and in others, it feels like a lifetime. For my family – it has been. My youngest was born the April after the album was released, and on this very day in 2007, I was at home, incubating away! Now she’s nine-and-a-half, and reminds me every single day of why I fear the teen years that lay ahead!

Happy anniversary to Red Carpet Massacre! One thing that album, and even Paper Gods, to some extent, has taught me, is to never second guess what this band will do next!

-R

Time for Temptation

It is back to work for Amanda and I (and anyone else who works in education) for the school year, which is painful enough, but this year we’ve the added bonus of the band starting back on the road again for a few more dates.  I laugh a little ruefully because while I really do love my job, I love the band too – and Croatia looks lovely this time of year! Alas….

So this is the annual announcement that from now until June, half of my blogs will be written ahead of time, meaning that every now and then, I may miss a worthy news item due to timing. Please be patient. Also, if there is no news, there may be days where there is no blog. We do our best to make this a rarity, but it does happen.

Coming up in September, our little blog turns SEVEN.  Can you believe we’ve been doing this for seven years now? We are going to celebrate this moment by looking back at our blog a bit, but in the meantime, I’m just going to sit back and marvel a teensy bit. I can’t speak for Amanda, but aside from motherhood and marriage – I don’t think I’ve ever held one job for that long!  The good news is that we plan to keep going. Our mantra is that we’re not done yet, so the band had better keep going too!

I’ll leave you with one final thought.  On this date in 2003, Duran Duran received the MTV Lifetime Achievement Award. Instead of showing the clip of them getting the award (which I post every year), I found a clip of the backstage interview after it was presented by Justin Timberlake.

Can you believe this was fourteen years ago?? Time goes by so fast now. I hate to blink in case I miss something!

Makes me wonder what the next fourteen will bring.

-R

Love Never Felt so Good – Jackson/Timberlake

It’s rare that I discuss other bands or artists here on the blog, but I kind of thought this deserved special mention.

Have you heard the new Michael Jackson song that features Justin Timberlake…and more importantly, have you seen the video?  It’s all over Twitter this morning, and so I decided to take a peek.

I heard the song itself on Monday night when it was used on Dancing with the Stars – not a show I normally watch, but I was flipping channels and caught it.  I have to say that I like the song. It reminds me very much of Michael’s older work.  I hear a lot of “Rock with You” in there, and I really like that. I have no doubt that the song, the album, and just about anything else they can squeeze the life out of will be exploited well beyond reason, which makes me incredibly sad, but the song is good. It’s Michael….and oh yes, it features Justin too.

I watched the video this morning. Granted, I’m not a Justin fan and I really don’t get his part in the video. Yes, I know he sings on the song, but for me even that seems to be a carefully placed afterthought. That doesn’t mean I don’t think he does a good job, because he does. (It’s his type of music and he performs extremely well. It’s not like he’s actually trying to sing on a Duran Duran song or something!  Oh wait…) I just think his part wasn’t necessary.  (Please see the above comment about exploitation.)  However, that wasn’t what really set me off this morning to write this blog.

As I watched the videos, I must admit that at several points I found myself watching the clips of his old videos and feeling pretty melancholy. I wasn’t ever a huge Michael Jackson fan. My sister might even say that I couldn’t stand him. That’s not exactly true, I was just sick to death of hearing about him during a time when I felt that Duran Duran ruled the world…but that’s OK. I was young and didn’t quite get it, I suppose.

I don’t think you can really be a music fan or a fan of the American Dance movement and not see the genius that took place every time Michael performed. Overexploited? Yes. Without a doubt…but still brilliant in every single way. As my daughter Heather’s dance instructors have always told her since the very day Michael passed – when you watch Michael Jackson, you are seeing the same moves we use today, and he was the reason we do them.  Musically, Michael is *the* reason people like Justin Timberlake got into music – you can hear that influence consistently in his work.  So while I may not pay homage to the man in the same way I do Duran Duran, I have great respect for his music and talent.

So, getting back to that video – as I watched, it felt just a little creepy to me. I couldn’t decide if I was disgusted that once again Michael continues to be exploited even after his death, or that I was annoyed Justin Timberlake needed to take center stage…or that it was all just way too soon.  In some ways, I suspect the latter.  Michael died on June 25, 2009 (I googled it – no, I don’t just have these things in my head!), and while it has been nearly five years, I found that watching other very talented dancers doing his moves while his own videos played in the background just a little…well…sad.

I think to Duran Duran.  How would I feel if it were them? I don’t even like to think about that.  But truly? How would I feel if a label took their most iconic videos, like Rio or Hungry Like the Wolf put them together while someone like Justin – who claims to be just as influenced by DD as Michael (I really don’t buy that, by the way) did a duet with Simon…and not only Simon, but Simon post-mortem?  Granted, Simon’s not a big dancer (unless you’re counting that chicken dance….hey…did you know it’s National Chicken Dance day??), but even so…a label will do whatever they need to do to milk the last bit of life out of something.  If THAT doesn’t give you the shivers on this Wednesday, nothing will.  But really, how would YOU feel?

I’d hate it. With a passion. I’m not really sure five years could make that work for me, either.

So to recap: Yes on the song…and a very sad no on the video.

-R